The Kevin Payne era at Toronto FC was symbolized by bold promises but few results. The talk of major additions and drastic improvement never really materialized and ultimately played a role in Payne's departure from the club, but following his exit the promises continue.
MLSE President Tim Leiweke has talked about Toronto FC's intent to sign two Designated Players next year and the approval from the Board of Directors to spend $26 million. After Head Coach Ryan Nelsen watched his team fall to a 2-0 defeat at New York Red Bulls on Saturday, in what was actually one of the team's better road performances of the season, the rookie coach didn't hold back when asked his thoughts about the club's position right now.
"To tell you the truth, this is possibly the absolute best position Toronto has ever been in," Nelsen told reporters outside the locker room following the match. "Next year, trust me, when you walk out there, there will be a couple of Designated Players and there will be a lot of our players that will be playing in the same organization.
"We play against these teams with better opportunities every single week. Just think of this time next year when we have a couple of DPs and we put ourselves in position because of this year. We had to undo a lot of mistakes that were made in the past and now we can build going forward," Nelson explained.
Having had the chance to talk in depth with Nelsen on a number of occasions, I know that statement isn't just him trying to sugarcoat the club's current position. The New Zealander really believes it. However, after seven years of promises followed by failure, it is difficult for Toronto FC supporters not to be skeptical.
The club's announcement that season ticket holders will not have to commit to renewing until January will give fans some extra time to see if the latest promises will be fulfilled, but the team's management is setting lofty expectations. Hopefully the end result isn't another let-down for the long-suffering supporters.
I was surprised on Saturday night when referee Edvin Jurisevic took no action against Toronto FC midfielder Jonathan Osorio following an incident late in the game at Red Bull Arena. Osorio kicked the ball from close range at the head of New York full back Kosuke Kimura who was on the floor. Fortunately Kimura was able to get up and continue participating in the match, but the outcome could have been much more serious.
Those who know Osorio will tell you there is not a malicious bone in his body and I'm certain he didn't mean to cause any harm, however it was a reckless play and one that is certain to be reviewed by Major League Soccer's Disciplinary Committee later this week. Ryan Nelsen praised the match official following the game for his decision not to take any action, but judging on past incidents reviewed by the Disciplinary Committee, a one -match suspension for Toronto FC's young midfielder seems a likely result.
Whatever the outcome, this is just another learning experience for a very talented young Canadian player who has the potential to be an influence for both club and country for years to come. It has been a fantastic season for the 21-year-old who has been one of Toronto FC's few bright spots this year.
The Captain Is Back
It was great to see Vancouver Whitecaps captain Jay DeMerit return to the lineup in San Jose on Saturday just over six months after suffering a torn Achilles tendon in the season opener. After just 70 minutes of reserve team action against UBC Thunderbirds, the former United States international was forced into action against the Quakes following an early injury to Brad Rusin. With Andy O'Brien and Johnny Leveron both left at home injured, DeMerit's comeback came sooner than Head Coach Martin Rennie expected, and the captain played a massive role in helping the team keep a clean sheet.
A massively understrength Whitecaps team battled hard to take a point against a San Jose team that holds an excellent home record, and at another stage of the season, it would be viewed as a very good result. However, with time running out in the 2013 season, both sides needed three points at Buck Shaw Stadium to give their fading playoff hopes a boost. It's now just one win in nine matches for Vancouver.
Thanks to Portland's draw against Chivas USA, the 'Caps finished the weekend in no worse a position that they started it, but they didn't improve their outlook either. As they prepare to head to Montreal, they are five points off the playoff places with six matches remaining - three at home, three away.
Montreal Impact against Vancouver Whitecaps is live on TSN on Saturday afternoon, with the pregame show kicking off at 1:30pm et/10.30am pt.